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Organizer of failed Fyre Festival is released early from federal prison

A lawyer for Billy McFarland, who was sentenced to six years behind bars in 2018, said he was transferred to a halfway house in New York on Wednesday.
William McFarland,Billy McFarland
Billy McFarland, the promoter of the failed Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, leaves federal court in New York on March 6, 2018, after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges.Mark Lennihan / AP file

The admitted fraudster behind the failed Fyre Festival was released from prison Wednesday, more than two years before the end of a six-year sentence handed down in 2018, his lawyer said.   

Billy McFarland, 30, was transferred from a low-security federal prison in Michigan on March 30, the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement.

His lawyer, Jason Russo, said McFarland had remained in custody at a second facility before he arrived at a halfway house in New York City on Wednesday.

He is expected to remain there until August, the bureau said.

McFarland, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to wire fraud and other crimes related to a music festival he fraudulently promoted as a luxurious, star-studded event in the Caribbean, was released early after having earned good time credit, Russo said.

McFarland’s release was first reported Wednesday by TMZ.

Russo said McFarland, who owes millions in restitution over the event, plans to "put together a team of good people for a solid plan to make amends and pay" what he owes.

Russo added that McFarland spent the last two years developing a plan to begin "immediately" paying the $26 million a judge ordered him to forfeit in 2018. Russo declined to provide additional details.

His release comes two years after McFarland was placed in solitary confinement, apparently for participating in a podcast about the festival called "Dumpster Fyre," according to The New York Times.

Russo told the paper that his client had been a "model prisoner" and that he didn't believe McFarland's participation violated any rules.

The Times reported that McFarland had previously been placed in solitary confinement for possessing a flash drive.

The April 2017 festival, which earned endorsements from celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, promised luxury accommodations in the Bahamas and performances by more than two dozen musical acts. Festivalgoers were instead given cheese sandwiches and told to stay in Federal Emergency Management Agency tents.

McFarland apologized for his crimes, telling a judge last year that he intended to organize a “legitimate festival” but “grossly underestimated the resources that would be necessary to hold an event of this magnitude,” according to The Associated Press.

“In an attempt to raise what I thought were needed funds, I lied to investors about various aspects of Fyre Media and my personal finances,” he said, according to the AP.